Most business intelligence environments resemble a mishmash (yes, that's the technical term) of well-architected structures and those that were obviously designed to meet an urgent need regardless of the longer-term consequences. This is true for best practice programs, beginning programs and programs that have experienced multiple failures.

Are the well-architected structures right and the others wrong? That depends on your perspective. There is no easy answer (e.g., all independent data marts should never have been created in the first place). However, there are effectiveness and efficiency measures. Effectiveness is measured by the architecture's ability to meet specific needs - and how long it is going to be able to do so with current "support" levels before rearchitecting is necessary. An independent data mart may meet a singular short-term need in a timely and very effective manner; and it may be well-architected when you don't consider the enterprise needs. However, it is efficiency that usually enforces good architecture. Occasionally, application needs cannot be met by the on-the-fly integration required in the absence of an enterprise data warehouse or those applications will be less effective than they could be.

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